Small Wars Journal

NATO Commander Breedlove Discusses Implications of Hybrid War

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 7:23pm

NATO Commander Breedlove Discusses Implications of Hybrid War

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2015 – Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove discussed the implications of hybrid war during a presentation to the Brussels Forum over the weekend.

Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, said Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea and continued actions in the rest of Eastern Ukraine is a form of hybrid war.

Russia is using diplomacy, information warfare, and its military and economic means to wage this campaign, he added.

Aspects of Hybrid War

One of the first aspects of the hybrid war is to attack credibility and to try to separate a nation from its support mechanisms, the general said.

“Informationally, this is probably the most impressive new part of this hybrid war, all of the different tools to create a false narrative,” he said. “We begin to talk about the speed and the power of a lie, how to get a false narrative out, and then how to sustain that false narrative through all of the new tools that are out there.”

Military tools remain relatively unchanged, he said. “But how they are used or how they are hidden in their use, is the new part of this hybrid war,” the general said. “How do we recognize, how do we characterize and then how do we attribute this new employment of the military in a way that is built to bring about ambiguity?”

An Across-government Approach

Using the economic tool, he said, hybrid warfare allows a country to bring pressure on economies, but also on energy.

“What the military needs to do is to use those traditional military intelligence tools to develop the truth. The way you attack a lie is with the truth,” Breedlove said. “I think that you have to attack an all of a government approach with an all of government approach. The military needs to be able to do its part, but we need to bring exposure to those diplomatic pressures and return the diplomatic pressure. We need to, as a Western group of nations or as an alliance, engage in this information warfare to … drag the false narrative out into the light and expose it.”

Regarding Western response to Russian actions in Ukraine, no tool should be off the table, Breedlove said.

“In Ukraine, what we see is what we talked about earlier, diplomatic tools being used, informational tools being used, military tools being used, economic tools being used against Ukraine,” he said. “We, I think, in the West, should consider all of our tools in reply. Could it be destabilizing? The answer is yes. Also, inaction could be destabilizing.”


Outlaw 09

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 2:45pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C--IMO NATO basically went to sleep in 2005 as it focused on AFG and never really paid much attention after that to Russia especially after the NATO Russian Basic treaty was signed into effect in 1997.

To argue about expansion is really a core smokescreen of the current Russian informational conflict as all the parties present during the 4 plus 2 treaty discussions on German reunification ALL state there was never a limitation of NATO expansion spoken about nor written into diplomatic language. Even Gorbi has finally gotten around to "admitting it". Actually go back a reread the Helsinki Agreement--"it allows" all European countries the inherent right to choose their particular bloc friends--the SU signed it.

Actually when one goes back to the start with the Crimea annexation and ALL of the Russian accusations--NATO expansion, humilation, US caused everything to US actions "caused us to annex the Crimea2 etc.--IT all has been one great informational warfatre smokescreen designed to confuse the discussion and it did confuse the conversation for the last year.

If we go back into the NATO Russian agreement it talks about no largescale bases established for long periods in the eastern NATO members--but it never forbid rotational troops and or exercises which had been scaled back since really 2012 due to funding shortfalls.

So in reality Russian actions awoke NATO and has given it a new lease on life with a mission of counter UW and now Russia "complains" about more NATO troops on it's border--talk about "cause and effect". If Russia had done nothing NATO was on the verge of simply drifting into non existence which Russia should have known about as it was an open ongoing public discussion.

I have an interesting question --in the face of all the totally new Russian weapons systems we are seeing in eastern Ukraine and that signals a rather long term military rebuild by Russia and the over 2T USDs with a big T they have earned on oil and gas over the last 15 years--what exactly has the West done to reduce Russian power? Especially in light of their non complaiance on the INF treaty? Notice 15 years places the timeline at about 2000--the eastern NATO members did not start joining NATO until the 2005 timeframe LONG after Russia started her military rebuild efforts.

What is interesting is that Mandelbaum is already answering his own questions--Russia has already violated six major European treaties and agreements also signed with the US, Russia is in direct violation of the INF, Russia is also in massive viloation of the OSCE disarament agreements thus the 15K tanks she still has that "allows" for over 700 to be sent into the Ukraine and Russia is already a neo "fascist" government.

AND all of that accomplished by Russia herself without any help from NATO and or the US----

Bill C.

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 12:20pm

Outlaw especially, I believe, will appreciate the following -- which is from an article in the May/June 1995 issue of "Foreign Affairs" by Michael Mandelbaum. The article is entitled "Preserving the New Peace: The Case Against NATO Expansion."

(The terms "Cause" and "Effect" below, however, are mine.)

a. Cause:

" ... Russia would regard the new configuration of European security that an expanded NATO would produce as illegitimate because it had been imposed over Russian opposition, even as Germany considered the post-World War I settlement as illegitimate "dictated" peace. According to Sergei A. Karaganov, deputy director of the Institute of Europe in Moscow and a Yeltsin adviser, if 'NATO expands eastward Russia, under any government, will become a revisionist power striving to undermine the already fragile European order. It is significant to note that ALL the modifications in Europe's security arrangements from 1987 to the present, the net effect of which has been dramatically to reduce Russian power, have occurred with Russian consent. NATO expansion would mark a departure from that pattern."

b. Effect:

"Three developments would signal the end of the effort to transcend balance-of-power politics in Europe. The first is Russian violation of the political or territorial integrity of its western neighbors, Ukraine and the Baltic states. Such violations are already occurring to Russia's south, in the Caucasus, but do not threaten Western security as would comparable behavior to the west. A second damaging development would be a serious violation of the major European arms control treaties. The third deathblow would be the advent of a xenophobic, hypernationalist, or neo-fascist government in Moscow ... "…

As we can see so clearly here, all that has transpired was predicted and warned against (as early as 1995!) but was simply ignored. This, because it appears that we had other fish to fry.

Thus, re: Russia:

a. Post-the Cold War we -- both knowingly and willingly -- made our (and the Ukrainian, et al's) bed. And now, accordingly, both we, and they,

b. Must lie down in it.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 10:31am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Now we see the formal owner of Gazprom coming out of the shadows--so will Putin now "declare a non linear war" on the EU as he is doing in the Ukraine?

#Lavrov Calls #EU Charges Against #Russia's Gazprom 'Unacceptable' - @MoscowTimes

BUT this is how the Baltics and many other EU countries view the EU decision from today on Gazprom.

Lithuanian president on #Gazprom antitrust case: "The era of Kremlin backed political and economic blackmail draws to a close."

If one thinks about the current Russia IOUs:

1. the demands on Gazprom to change and lower their pricing and release the pipeline infrastructure to competition and 3rd party ownership is 89B
2. 50B USD and daily interest on the Yukos decision that they did not appeal
3. economic sanctions for the Ukraine just for 2014 is per Russia itself 120B with it increasing over that amount in 2015
4. the cost of supporting the Crimea is now over 145B USD and more to come

AND the average daily costs for fighting in the Ukraine 35M USD per day

Their entire foreign reserves plus gold total currently only 345B USDs.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 7:42am

Looks like the EU has completely eliminated a massive economic weapon which is part and parcel of current Russian non linear warfare directed against the Ukraine and the EU.

Either Gazprom accepts the punishment being decided by the EU or it pays an estimated fine of 89B Euros.

The economic weapon is just a piece of the Russian UW strategy.

Margrethe Vestager ✔ @vestager
Statement of Objection against Gazprom activities in 8 countries. Our preliminary view: Gazprom partitioned market and charged unfair prices

BREAKING: European Union opens antitrust case against Gazprom amid worsening EU-Russia relations

Took all of about four hours for Gazprom to prove just how it is integrated into the Russian non linear warfare and toss overboard the mantra they are an independent public gas company doing their business independently based on market forces.

Notice the not so subtle threat of using Moscow.

In it's just-issued denial to @EU_Commission antitrust charges, #Gazprom seems to want to pull Kremlin into case

The fundamental flaw in our analysis and thinking today relates primarily, I believe, to our failing to understand the types of war that "we" -- and, thus, "they" -- are embarked upon.

Unlike the Cold War, today "we" are the one's that are embarked upon a war of expansion (to implant our way of life, our way of governance, etc.).

While "they" (much as we were during the Cold War) are today embarked upon a war to prevent, contain and roll back these such expansionist designs.

Once one understands that these are the types of war that both "we" (expansion) and "they" (prevent, containment, roll back) are embarked upon today, then everything else seems to fall so easily into place.

For example and re: an expansionist agenda:

One comes to understand (much as Soviet's came to understand re: their expansionist efforts) how:

a. The conservative elements of a population (charateristically more-opposed to fundamental state and societal change) might become one's "natural enemy" while

b. The progressive and/or liberal elements of the population (charateristically more-considerate of fundamental state and societal change) might become one's "natural ally."

Clear evidence of this phenomenon (and, thus, clear evidence of the type of war that both "we" and "they" are now embarked upon) can be found in noting, for example, that:

a. The above-described "natural enemies and allies" of the Soviets, during their expansionist period, have now often become

b. Our "natural enemies and allies" and re: our expansionist designs.

It is through this exact lens (the West is now seen to be on an expansionist march; while the Rest are now seen to be in a prevent/contain/roll back mode) that I suggest that we might view the ability of our enemies -- whether these are found in Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan and/or elsewhere -- to rally the conservative elements of their populations to their (increasingly conservative?) cause(s).

Small wars, hybrid wars, etc., etc., etc.?

These, today, to be understood -- much as was the case during the Cold War -- within the context of "the type of war that we (containment then; expansion now) and they (expansion then; containment now) are embarked upon."

Outlaw 09

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:59am

Russia is in fact attempting via negotiations to break NATO and the EU and that is two of Putin's three geo political goals.

Russia’s Master Plan to Break the Trans-Atlantic Alliance
Putin is using negotiations about the future of Ukraine to gain a voice in decision-making for all of Europe.

"#Russia’s Master Plan to Break the Trans-Atlantic Alliance"…

Outlaw 09

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 6:04am

this goes to the mindset behind the Putin current moves that one must truly understand if one is to understand non linear warfare.…

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Putin Needs Both Great Victory and Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, April 21 – Vladimir Putin finds himself caught in a variety of paradoxes none more glaring than his simultaneous need to defend the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by which the USSR became an ally of Nazi Germany and his need to celebrate the Great Victory over the Third Reich, according to Yevgeny Ikhlov.

On the on the one hand, the Moscow commentator says, Putin needs the Great Victory because it completes the shift from a focus on communism as the explanation for the Soviet Union’s win to one on Stalin and his totalitarian system as the source of that triumph (

And on the other “and at the same time,” the Kremlin leader is prepared to defend with “all the authority of the Russian state” Stalin’s alliance with Hitler which is “delicately called ‘the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact’” because “that pact for the first time legalized zones of Soviet influence” beyond the borders of the USSR and based on “continuity” with the Russian Empire.

This is just one of the insights contained in Ikhlov’s article about the importance of mythologizing the past in a country like Putin’s Russia, one where “the weaker the institutions in the state are, the stronger must be the all-embracing mythology.” Indeed, his system is based on the idea that “the picture propaganda provides of the world is the only reality for the population.”

Up to a point, this approach has served Putin well. It has “rooted Putinism in Russian political history.” But the problems begin when one tries to make that political history consistent, something that is virtually impossible without blatant falsification because various events point in so many contradictory and incompatible directions.

And that in turn means, Ikhlov says, that “the more improvisations are introduced into this renewed cult, the stricter will be the struggle to ‘defend history from distortions and falsifications’ … There are many countries which have introduced punishments for denial of crimes against humanity … but there are only a few which [like Russia today] are criminalizing the unmasking of historic crimes.”

The approaching celebration of Victory Day, of Russia’s attempt to take credit for the defeat of Nazism, highlights this “real schizophrenia” in Moscow’s position: “One should not call oneself the main victor over Hitlerism while being proud of the alliance with this same Hitlerism” at the start of Hitler’s war to “seize Europe.”

There is a logic in each of the narratives, Ikhlov argues, but trying to bring them together into a single narrative is “impossible,” because “to be at one and the same time an anti-fascist, an anti-communist, and an anti-liberal in the contemporary understanding of the ideological spectrum cannot be done.”

The only way it can be done, he suggests, is with “one’s own fascism,” or as Putin would put it “’the Russian world.’”

But there is a deeper paradox and problem for Putin, Ikhlov says. It consists of the fact that Russian history consists of a series of “hermetically sealed periods,” each of which engages in the denial of its predecessor, as the late philosopher Aleksandr Akhizer pointed out a generation ago.

That makes stability very difficult as does “the struggle of two competing directions” in each, “each of which offers mutually exclusively approaches to the overcoming of internal crises.” Typically, the leaders of a country must make a choice; Putin has been trying so far to avoid doing so.

“Putinism’s difficulties began when it ceased to be simply ‘velvet Pinochetism,’ a regime of authoritarian modernization and began to convert itself into ‘an oprichnina,’ into market Stalinism,” Ikhlov says. That violated a chief requirement of myths: a certain consistency in their internal logic.

According to the Moscow commentator, “isolationism and anti-Westernism require support in a messianic legend. But Orthodox fundamentalism remains too much an exotic phenomenon.” Moreover, it is dangerous because it contains within itself “a very strong anti-state attitude.”

Moreover, “all the misfortune of Putinism” is that doctrines like “Moscow is the Third Rome” have the effect of “denying development and transforming life into an uninterrupted waiting for the end of the world.”

That leaves Putin and Putinism with few options, Ikhlov argues. Indeed, the only one really available is the implementation of a 160-year-old tradition that was “aborted by Bolshevism – the development of right-wing fascism.”

During that period, he says, Russia has moved “along a totalitarian arc: from radical-left form in the shape of Bolshevism with a gradual falling away from utopian pseudo-Marxist ideas to the side of right-wing totalitarianism which recognizes and cultivates obscurantism, chauvinism and petty private property.”

This evolution, Ikhlov continues, has included “periods of black hundreds-style post-war Stalinism, the anti-market ‘left fascism’ of stagnation … and up to the current dawn of the Russian conservative revolution, the first conquests of which have already appeared in Crimea and ‘Novorossiya.’”

“The evolution of totalitarianism from communism to fascist was broken off only three times – during the five years of the New Economic Policy, the decade of the thaw, and the ingloriously just concluded liberal-perestroika thirty year period.” It is now resuming with full force and with all its contradictions in play.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 5:24pm

Currently the Russian FM has been on two "rants" over Minsk 2 the last two days that makes one wonder what he has been smoking lately.

When we talk about non linear warfare we assume Putin is not ever going to go nuclear--but given the sheer number of serious threats and the actions of his missile forces and his bomber pilots lately are we really sure he will not go at least tactically nuclear???

At first IMO it was bluffing, but lately it is taken on a different look and feel and it appears that right now Putin and his inner circle are bunkering in and not listening or responding to true "reality" that would make a leader stop and think and others are starting to rethink his threats.

Here's How Putin Might Use The Nuclear Weapons He Keeps Talking About

The War Room

Tom Nichols

Sep. 2, 2014, 11:42 AM

Tom Nichols is a Professor in the National Security Affairs Department at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, and a senior associate of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.

I don’t miss the Cold War, but apparently Russian President Vladimir Putin does. Either that, or he’s now clinically insane.

There aren’t a lot of other explanations for Putin’s nuclear chest-thumping in the past week or so.

So far, it’s vintage Putin: swaggering braggadocio about Russia’s nuclear status that isn’t actually linked to a specific threat, but with enough dots to connect that any foreign observer can take his meaning.

Like the mobster he is, Putin never directly threatens, but instead talks in circles, sort of the way a loan shark explains the many ways you could have an “accident” if you don’t pay up.

This isn’t as new as it looks. The Soviet and later Russian militaries have always been obsessed with nuclear weapons — yes, even more than the Americans — but mostly, in the last few decades, to compensate for the pitiful state of Russian conventional forces. Apparently, nuclear deterrence has now reverted back to Cold War dice-throwing.

So what, exactly is Putin on about? Let’s look at this seriously for a moment, as if Putin isn’t a gangster or a lunatic. Is there actually a strategic logic to the use of a nuclear weapon anywhere in this current crisis?

Russian commentator Andrei Piontkovsky thinks that Putin, at least, believes there is. As Paul Goble reports:

Clearly, [says Piontkovsky], Putin does not seek “the destruction of the hated United States,” a goal that he could achieve “only at the price of mutual suicide.” Instead, his goals are “significantly more modest: the maximum extension of the Russian World, the destruction of NATO, and the discrediting and humiliation of the US as the guarantor of the security of the West.”

To put it in simplest terms, Piontkovsky continues, Putin’s actions would be “revenge for the defeat of the USSR in the third (cold) world war just as the second world war was for Germany an attempt at revenge for defeat in the first.”

If Putin is the old-school Soviet thug I now think he is, then his notional plan will look something like this:

1. Provoke a crisis within the current crisis. There are rumors, for example, that the shootdown of MH17 was actually supposed to be the shootdown of a Russian airliner that could then be used as a pretext for invasion. That’s a little too clever for me, but imagine a sudden Russian lunge toward, say, Odessa, and the US and UK take the recent advice of Ben Judah in the New York Times and send troops to hold the airport there. Now we have exactly the NATO-Russia standoff for which Putin has been striving for months.

2. Get some Russian soldiers killed. Make sure it looks right on RT, preferably with Ukrainian soldiers using Western weapons. (Or better yet, with NATO soldiers returning fire on innocent Russian “peacekeepers” and “aid convoys” or whatever idiotic ruse Putin uses the next time.)

3. Use a nuclear weapon. NATO shatters as everyone west of Warsaw loses control of their bladders.

I’m not saying this is a good plan, but it might be the one Putin and his cronies are considering.

Of course, this is pure crazy talk on many levels.

The Consequences Of Using Nuclear Weapons

First, I can’t figure out how even Putin thinks he secures the future of Russia by becoming the first nation since 1945 to use nuclear weapons. If the Russian president’s goal is to make the world forget about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, place a permanent stain on the word “Russia” for all time, and unite the entire planet against his still-poor, still-weak country, then he is not only unhinged, he’s just plain stupid.

There are other considerations, of course. Exactly what does Putin think he’s going to hit with nuclear weapons? A NATO base in Poland, perhaps? A UK submarine pen? A US ICBM base in Wyoming? This is one of those ideas that probably sounded good after that fourth vodka at 3 am in the Kremlin, hanging out with the boys and getting a shoulder rub from Alina Kabayeva.

Indeed, you can almost see it: jackets open, ties loosened, cigarette smoke hanging in the air, the clink of glasses, the generals and the spooks sitting around smugly talking about NATO having a collective pants-browning over the display of Russian nuclear might.

Unfortunately (for them) it’s not 1974. It doesn’t work that way. No matter how Putin’s team or his courtiers in the Russian media try to spin the story, the first use of a nuclear weapon is still the first use of a nuclear weapon. Russians, raised on the idea that only the bad guys would ever use nukes first, will know exactly what happened. And then they will wait for the cloud of fallout to hit them — as it will within a few days if the target is in European NATO.

And some of them — especially the smarter ones who are already trying to get the hell out of Russia — will wonder why their lives and futures are being sacrificed for the sake of the memory of a country that ceased to exist while they were still toddlers.

A Russian Pariah State

How any of this helps Russia is beyond me. Even if the exchange stops at one weapon — and I don’t think any U.S. President needs to retaliate by adding yet more poison to the planet, but that’s just me — Russia will forever be contained by the international community as the Worst Country In The World.

Of course, if Putin thinks the exchange will stop with one weapon, then he’s the most confident gambler since Hitler in 1936. (I’d also bet that the Chinese are probably rooting for Putin to get off the leash and go nuts, because it will allow them to finally get the stink of Mao Zedong’s crazy off of them and make it stick forever to Moscow.)

If the exchange doesn’t stop at one weapon, then the rest is irrelevant, and you and I will likely not be sitting here calmly reading and reflecting on international affairs.

Putin isn’t going to live forever, and after using a nuclear bomb his successors will have two choices: either revert to complete Soviet-like isolation and self-sufficiency in world that will forever hate Russia (and live off pickled herring and apple juice for another century) or abjectly throw the Russian Federation on the mercy of international opinion, and engage in prolonged atonement that would almost certainly require demilitarization of the Russian state and war crimes tribunals for the surviving leaders and generals.

I used to think the chance of any of this was about zero. But of course, that’s the problem with “about zero:” it’s not actually “zero.” Anything that’s not impossible has a finite chance of happening. Putin’s provocations might have only a million to one shot of producing a nuclear event, but if he tries those provocations a million times…well, you do the math.

I keep waiting for cooler heads to prevail in Moscow and thought this might have reached some kind of resolution over the summer. But that was 2500 Ukrainian deaths — and one innocent airliner — ago.

Still, I’m used to Soviet…er, sorry….Russian leaders talking about nuclear weapons, and so I’m assuming this is business as usual, circa 1980. But the fact that Putin is willing to throw away Russia’s future for the sake of a Soviet past means that this crisis is not close to being over. It also means that there is no way to deal with this crisis through negotiation: if Putin is so locked in the past that he thinks he can make nuclear threats, he’s not likely to change course now.

I also worry about one more thing, on our side rather than theirs. Putin is taking huge risks based on the idea that Barack Obama is the weakest American president in modern history. The Kremlin has plenty of reason to think so, especially after the graceless powder we took in Syria a year ago. There is no question that President Obama is among the least, uh, decisive leaders the White House has had in a long time, but even weak Presidents can only be pushed so far.

I worry that Putin, like other Soviet — sorry again, Russian, I mean Russian — leaders thinks that America is as leader-centered as Russia is, and will not understand that at some point the American foreign policy establishment will create a response that will totally surprise the Kremlin. That’s how major wars get started, but it’s not clear that Putin knows this, or cares.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 12:52am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C--one of the major flaws that we are even having in his discussion are the words we use.

When we start the non linear warfare debate with the word hybrid we "hide" the true intent of the word the Russians use, when we use the word "informational warfare" we avoid using the Russian word "information conflict" AND there is a big difference between the Russian and English in meanings and intent.

Second mistake is not using the exact definition of the Russian word ie using their own doctrinal definitions--when we use that concept one has a far better understanding of what they are thinking and doing.

NOW for the US--this President and his NSC started from the position using the term "incursion" not "invasion" and I have not really seen the term "aggressor" being applied to Russia.

the following is a great example done by a social media open source analyst simply using open source satellite photos WHIC prove the term "invasion".

WHAT is strange is if this quality i available to the social media then what did we spend literally BILLIONS on for ISR starting in 2003????

The Russian truly "invaded" the Ukraine clearly in August 2014 to stop the Ukraine from achieving a lastly end to their "separatist problem" and then pulled back into the Russian homeland.

After Ilovaisk ambush Russian Army retreated with big smoke screen back to Russia…

NOW if we take a look at a current MRLS munitions depot sitting directly next to the Ukrainian border we see what exactly?--a massive resupply effort that is in FULL violation of Minsk 2 AND what is the response from this White House and his NSC--silence.

We are now long past discussions and debates and a spade must truly be called a spade in order to even negotiate and or find a solution--because running around the problem with "creative words" simply ignores the whole problem.

#Russia|ns gathered a huge amount of ammunition near border #Ukraine.… … via @KuczynskiG

Bill C.

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 7:31pm

In reply to by RantCorp

As I have argued repeatedly, the flaw in our thinking is, I believe, not related so much to our imprudent reliance on military force, RMA, etc., but, rather, on our imprudent reliance on the "universal" appeal of our way of life, our way of governance, our related institutions and our associated values, attitudes and beliefs. THIS is the form of reliance, I suggest, that has gotten us into -- and kept us in -- the very deep kimchi.

Thus, it is:

a. Not so much the inability of our (or other) military force (enhanced by RMA or otherwise) to shape a favorable outcome in the face of political opposition to the ambition of that force. But, rather,

b. The inability of our way of life, our way of governance, our related institutions and our associated values, attitudes and beliefs to bring about the favorable outcomes that we desire (for example: in Russia); this, in the face of -- shall we say -- "historic and cultural opposition" to the ambition of such a force.

c. With no such favorable wind at our back, military force (enhanced by RMA or otherwise) has been given a job that it just cannot (in today's universally viewed and politically correct environment) do.

(My "a" - "c" above being, more or less, General Sir Rupert Smith's recent "Utility of Force" argument?)

But what the threat or use of military force (enhanced by RMA or otherwise) DOES seem to be able to do -- in these such contemporary environments -- is to:

a. Poison the transformational waters and/or

b. Screw the transformational pooch.

Thus, it is in this negative/counterproductive light, I suggest (poisoning the transformational waters; screwing the transformational pooch), that we might see the imprudent use of our military force -- in Vietnam back in the day -- in the greater Middle East recently -- and/or in NATO today.

And it is in this counterproductive/negative light that one might successfully argue that the use of -- or threat of -- military force today (enhanced by RMA or not) still "matters."

So: In these such circumstances (no real utility of force re: our political objective of transforming outlying states and societies more along modern western, political, economic and social lines), what is the job at hand?

To -- via other ways and other means -- make our Western way of life, our Western way of governance, our Western political, economic and social norms and institutions and our Western values, attitudes and beliefs more attractive to the more-important others (for example: the Russians).

NATO expansion, from the get go, and as the early Yeltsin/Lukashenko strategy and alliance seems to suggest, sabotaged this.


Mon, 04/20/2015 - 4:50pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C,

You labor under the delusion that anyone gives a damn what the US military is doing. I am curious when did you acquire this state of mind? As a Vietnam Vet I would have presumed you would be the first to argue the inability of a military force to shape a favorable outcome in the face of political opposition to the ambition of that force.

I mean to say since the defeat in Vietnam our opponents are getting smaller and smaller as the price of our RMA Mickey Mouse gets bigger and bigger. So rather than advocating the significance of our military to shape events; the post-Vietnam experience indicates our RMA mickey mouse is delivering the complete opposite.

Would you agree?

Fortunately the reality of the dominant political - subservient military matrix applies to the ambitions of our enemies as well. I would suggest rather than examine the conflict in the Ukraine as a US/NATO-centric problem I would advocate a native perspective to gain a better insight as to how the shit is about to go down.

IMHO the Holodomor is the primary political entity that will determine the strategic outcome of the current conflict in the Ukraine. It is hard to imagine (unless you are a European Jew) what it is like to have millions of your grandparents, their siblings and their friends starved to death in a politically inspired genocide by your neighbor.

Stalin’s opposition to Ukrainian nationalism in the 1930s compelled him to kill up to 6 million Ukrainians. Modern historians have suggested a revised number of deaths down to 2.5 million but those who experienced the genocide first hand believe 6 million were starved to death on the orders of the Russian leader.

I would argue the collective memory of those who were there defines the current political mindset of the natives. As such this legacy powers the political narrative on the ground in 2015.

In a American context 620K died in the Civil War, 405K in WW2, 116K in WW1, 58K in VN, 36K in Korea and 6.6K in GWOT. If you consider how those 1.5 million deaths have defined the American character in every conceivable cultural detail imagine the impact of 6 million death caused by someone who Ukrainian school children used to send a birthday card to Uncle Joe on his big day.

If you find it difficult to understand the political dynamics that such events evoke in the natives imagine if the IS managed to overrun the Golan Heights and started slaughtering Jewish settlers.

The mind boggles.

Believe me the sentiment in the Ukraine today is no different.


Below I provided information that suggested that Russia's concern with -- and adverse reactions to -- NATO's expansion:

a. Begin before and, thus, transcend Putin. And, thus,

b. Relate more to concerns of defense and security rather than offense and empire.

Herein, for example, we find (in my last link at my comment immediately below):

Yeltsin of Russia, and Lukashenko of Belarus, together forming a strategic and military alliance based on "a Slavic-Orthodox unity increasingly threatened by the West in the form of an expanding NATO."

Quoted from this link:

"One of the greatest strategic impediments facing Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union was the disappearance of the defensive shield built up by the USSR in its western periphery to protect the Russian heartland from the Western powers. NATO expansion caused Russia to reassess strategic imperatives and rethink security alliances in areas of traditional interest. Belarus was central to that reassessment, as both states regard close military cooperation as a major element of their national security. As the contemporary European security architecture took shape, a new battle began to brew between an expanding NATO and a Russia increasingly concerned over the compression of its western security space—an area which it has held long-standing hegemony."

This such knowledge seems to negate the argument that Yeltsin and Lukashenko's actions then -- and/or Putin's actions now -- relate to (a) historic Russian imperial/global expansionist designs of which (b) Putin is just the latest version.

Rather, Yeltsin and Lukashenko's actions then -- and Putin's actions now -- appear, in the context offered above, to be more those of a cornered animal; one whose desperate maneuvers and lashing out can best be understood in terms of how dire and dangerous it perceives its present predicament.

Bill M. points to the fact that these such Russian actions -- regardless of motivation -- threaten U.S./Western interests.

In this I would have to agree.

This, given the fact that U.S./Western interests today are best defined as (1) the desired expansion of our power, influence and control via (2) the promotion of our way of life, our way of governance, our related institutions, and our associated values, attitudes and beliefs.

Seen in this light, Yeltsin and Lukashenko's actions then -- and/or Putin's actions today -- do appear to stand in the way of, and thus threaten, such United States/Western interests.

The question we must ask ourselves, however, is: Re: this obstacle/threat -- and because of our insistence on expanding NATO -- are we (rather than, for example, Yeltsin, Lukashenko and/or Putin) -- really the one's to blame?

Outlaw 09

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 12:44pm

Just a side comment--we hear all the time that NATO must invest and spend more on it's on defense and one cannot expect the US to constantly led but then if one takes a serious look--what is exactly the US defense posture that signals serious intent to Putin?

A-10s are actually on loan and are not stationed in Europe.

Most of the AF fighter aircraft are from National guard units.

No heavy armored brigade and or division at all in Europe--takes two months or longer to bring one over.

No heavy artillery brigades whatsoever in all of Europe and one Patriot brigade.

One airborne brigade, one helicopter brigade and one ACR--that is it.

Now today the announcement the 24 Apache attack helicopters of the 12th helicopter brigade are being pulled out of Europe due to cost savings and yet we openly complain when each NATO country does not spend 2% of their budget on defense.

Interesting message the WH is sending Europe these days.

Removing Apaches is "surprising decision...adds to uncertainty... around US role in European security"…

Outlaw 09

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 11:58am

Next to the use by Russia of special forces and intelligence operations in non linear warfare their "information conflict" is the key to the entire UW strategy and it is one area the West is not even on the same planet with Russia.

Russia military doctrinal definition of their “information conflict”.

Confrontation between two or more states in the information space to damage the information systems, processes and resources, which are of critical importance, and other structures, to undermine the political, economic and social system, and effect massive brainwashing of the population for destabilizing the society and the state, and also forcing the state to make decisions in the interests of the confronting party.

Great example of Russian doctrinal “information conflict”.

Classic propaganda by distortion: #Russia’s map of #NATO “military bases”, and the reality.

this example depicts what the Russia propaganda machine provides their civil society--if one believes it Russia "would in fact be surrounded by NATO".

Outlaw 09

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 7:14am

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

Strategic culture is fine and good but how does it handle the following??

It has been often expressed that Putin and his immediate inner circle reside in "an altered state of reality", but lately there are increasing signs that this "altered state of reality" is rapidly shifting to outspoken "paranoia" about West and especially US intentions towards Putin and Russia.

Putin says in upcoming doc film that foreign powers 'decided that Russia will stop existing in its current form'.…


Sun, 04/19/2015 - 3:54pm

In reply to by Bill M.

It is difficult for outsiders to comprehend the outrage Ukrainians feel when their countrymen are killed by their Russian neighbors. The initial shock has worn off. No doubt many Ukrainians were hoping the images they were seeing on their TV, computer and smartphones were a return to Soviet-era propaganda (only much more convincing) and somehow it was not as bad as it looked. That hope is now dead. The grim reality has sunk in that once again Russia has a leader who has no qualms about killing Ukrainians.

IMO the Ukrainians fear that a return of the sentiments that inspired the Ukrainian genocide of the 1930s has taken place in Russia. The desire to prevent the possibility of this happening again is the primary strategic driver that will determine who wins and who loses.

I do not buy the sphere of influence argument. Certainly both the Ukraine and Poland have long histories of conflict/dominance by their big neighbors but the world has moved on in so many ways. I am reminded of a quote attributed to a particularly successful anti-colonialist.

“You fools! Don't you realize what it means if the Chinese remain? Don't you remember your history? The last time the Chinese came, they stayed a thousand years. The French are foreigners. They are weak. Colonialism is dying. The white man is finished in Asia. But if the Chinese stay now, they will never go. As for me, I prefer to sniff French shit for five years than to eat Chinese shit for the rest of my life.”

We need to shape our response to Putin’s re-colonization by recognizing Uk nationalism as the COG of the conflict. Funnily enough when Uncle Ho was admonishing his fellow Vietnamese we had SF on the ground giving him advice and weapons to fight the Japanese. The OSS team that was attached to Giap’s HQ were perfectly aware that an independent VN was the best bulwark against the Domino Theory and they told General Eisenhower as much. We ignored their ground-level experience and instead backed colonialism and lost.

In 2015 we seem somewhat paralyzed in our response to this latest attempt in colonization. Normally our inaction is put down to a political fear of US personnel being killed. However the UA doesn’t need nor want our boots on the ground.

IMO it is our enslavement to RMA that is causing the paralysis. Like the Pak UW, the Rus UW has exposed a weakness in our shiny RMA and we are still having difficulty coming to terms /recognizing this reality. Like the French Knights at Agincourt our response is retarded by the tyranny of our sunken costs in our shiny weapon platforms and we flounder in the mire as the UW yeoman pick us off at very little cost to themselves.

The Pak’s UW used fertilizer, narco-dollars and simplistic fascist dogma disguised as Islam. Putin UW uses a limited number of MBTs, Grads and massive cyber misinformation to justify defending a Russian-speakers enclave. Needless to say you couldn’t get a set of tactical/operational elements more different in character but the strategic object of the Pak UW & Rus the UW - to impose their political will on a neighbor - is the same.

Unlike the Afghans, the Ukrainians (likewise the Vietnamese) have a national identity upon which an effective CUW force can be built. Their reliance on a conventional UA response at the outset of hostilities caused them to fail when the Russia counterattacked with UW and saved the Donetsk ‘separatists’. It is unlikely they will make that mistake again as the MBT/Grad/Spetsnaz capacity of Russia is enormous.

A secure comms network will give the UA something both sides currently lack. The UA home ground advantage mitigates the problem somewhat for the UA. The equally poorly networked Russians have a similar comms problem but do not have the luxury of a friendly native population in which their UW fighters can ‘swim’. The same comms will give us a classroom view of how a CUW campaign against the Spetsnaz model of UW can be developed.

Even the Swedes are developing a CUW capacity in conjunction with the rest of Scandinavia and the Baltic States. We all have an opportunity to learn from the Ukrainian response and rediscover our own capacity to execute UW.

IMO there is zero chance of Russia starting a full-blooded war with NATO. The Russian leader might be stupid but he’s not that stupid. Even if he was that insane, the Russian military leadership would have him removed if even the slightest chance of him instigating a war with NATO came about.

The KIA tally is currently less than 10,000. The Russians know they will eventually have to pack up and go home. Whether the death toll remains in the tens of thousands or drags on and goes up into the hundreds of thousands of Russians, Ukrainians and possibly Poles KIA is dependent on how quickly NATO equips the Ukrainian Army to fight UW. So any further delay seems foolhardy and reckless to say the least.

Who knows, perhaps the only reason Putin has embarked on such a stupid adventure is he’s aware we currently have limited ability to fight UW and whilst that remains the case he can afford to build upon the tough guy image he’s so fond of portraying to the world’s media.

It wouldn’t be the first time a megalomaniac started a war. Fortunately they always lose.


Outlaw 09

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 1:30pm

In reply to by Bill M.

Our current "strategic culture" is not fully understanding the ideological shift in Russia ie a new form of Russian fascism built to a degree on the Czarist Empire, the Stalinist Empire and the Russian Orthodox Church and because we do not understand it we tend to make assumptions that this or that will occur if we just do this or that. remember Russian never went through a de-Communism phase as did say Germany with the GDR.

Our current policies therefore will never work with Putin we are not even in the same room.

He is expansionistic in nature and views a "new Yalta" giving him the "privileged control" of whatever he defines his end state be it for example a combination of both the Czarist and Stalinist Empires if need be.

This is a form of thinking that many all Presidents since Reagan have not encountered and we basically after the Wall came down decommissioned our IC Russian desks, throttled back our Russian language training and refocused on COIN and the new "reset" and "forgot" Russia as a serious near peer competitor.

Example of this expansionistic approach is now the Artic and the Russian Vice DP who is on the visa non travel sanctions list shows up in Norway yesterday and basically landed illegally there allegedly to visit Russian Artic operations.

In the ensuing serious Norwegian raised political affront with the Russian FM then this today:

There is something surreal in the Russian expansionist policies of Putin these days--everywhere the Czar was so goes Putin.

Following Rus Vice PM Rogozin's illegal visit to Spitsbergen, the Russian parliament questions Norway's full sovereignty over this island.

Where Putin goes with his thinking so goes his Duma.

Remember Russian just announced their ramp up of their "Artic Command" complete with 30K troops, Artic bases, naval ships assigned to that Command and 120 combat and support aircraft assigned to that Command.

So now the Russian non linear warfare operations is encompassing Crimea, then on to eastern Ukraine, has started initial activities in two of the Baltics and now Norway AND we are still debating "hybrid warfare" and just what is he up to questions???

Bill M.

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 12:50pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

I have a fair amount of information on strategic culture, and I'm glad to see people are exploring it, because it is critical to understanding the strategic environment. NATO was intended to contain and deter the USSR, I think it may be need to serve a similar purpose regarding Russia despite our high hopes that wouldn't be required. I'm still at a loss in determining what our strategic goals are for the region, so I'm hesitant to make serious recommendations without that understanding.

Pulling out of, minimizing our role in, or disbanding NATO are all options that should be explored, but not under the threat of coercion. I suspect when and if these options are explored in depth we'll see there is a lot of value to NATO that extends well beyond its original mandate. International cooperation, standardized military C2 processes, interoperability, defense in depth regarding our homeland, etc. that we'll be hesitant to toss away after decades of investment.

NATO has supported counter piracy operations, operations in Afghanistan, and I suspect other operations that had nothing to do with the USSR or Russia. Our strategic culture embraces four enduring ends/goals: security (protecting U.S. citizens and the homeland), economic, international order, and values. I think they're all interconnected and mutually supporting. While hard to prove, I think the international order we largely led the effort in forming has resulted in the greatest period of peace the world has known. We're not at peace with everyone, but most countries outside of the Middle East are at peace with one another. If we don't protect that order (that doesn't mean it is locked in stone), the repercussions on our security and economic interests could be severe. NATO is part of that order to some extent. It does seem that in some regards it is a relic of history that is more provocative than helpful, so maybe the right answer is to transform it into something else entirely? I know we offered Russia the possibility of joining NATO, but that is affront to anyone's pride. If we offered to form a brand new security alliance, and sit around the table and work out the new rules for a new world. There are so many potential options that may or may not being explored.

Robert C. Jones

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 12:16pm

In reply to by Bill M.

There was a quote in that Caspian Report on Ukraine I sent you, that to effect stated that Russians determine threat as purely a function of capability. Americans, of course, use a combination of capability and intent.

Not sure which approach is better, and not sure if this is accurate about the Russian perspective on threat or not, but if it is it means that US logic and Russian logic are going to come to wildly different places. We push all manner of capability toward Russia, but see it as benign as we "know" we have no intent to use it. Russia can only judge our intent by our actions, which are pretty aggressive. But if they only focus on our capability, then one counter-intuitive conclusion could be that the US makes our European partners and allies safer from Russian aggression by withdrawing from NATO than we do by continuing our current course.

I need to explore this a bit. I am working with some of the thought leaders on the topic of "strategic culture" and this is a classic example of that concept. Assuming one's competitors think and value the same things in the same manner one does is always dangerous in any negotiation.

Bill M.

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 7:24pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Like many others, I didn't like Clinton's foreign policy, it was foolish and looking beyond NATO it undermined U.S. interests. However, Clinton continues to defend it today on various talk shows. Getting closer to your point, Russia saw itself as a great empire under the Tsars long before they were communist, and then under Lenin and beyond they pushed for global expansion, and Putin was part of that dream team. He reportedly hated the collapse of the USSR, and now desires to get it back to its formal glory.

Yes, NATO expansion under Clinton was problematic (though it helped immensely in the war on terror, since the new NATO countries like Poland contributed a fair amount of capacity), and can be used a factor to mobilize Russian Nationalism. However, I suspect it had little to do with Putin's decision to invade Crimea. We'll never know, but what would have Russia's leader's done if NATO did go away like SEATO did? Would they exhale and relax peacefully within their borders and respect the sovereignty of their neighbors? History indicates that is not the case.

In the end, the discussion doesn't matter. We're not going to recommend disbanding NATO, and the international order has rules that must be enforced, or we will face a much more dangerous world. One could make argument that Russia taking Crimea was in their strategic interests and to some extent could be justified. It still would have pushed more countries to reach out and seek membership in NATO. One article stated Sweden and Finland fear Russia's intentions, and they were never part of NATO expansion.

The U.S., NATO, Russia need to figure out what their core strategic interests actually are, and seek ways not to threaten each others' interests if they desire to maintain the peace. Russia is acting out well beyond Ukraine, so regardless of what they, or Russian apologists, use to justify their actions, our interests are now threatened.

Some discussion of pre/non-Putin -- but, rather, post-Cold War Russian -- reasons and responses to NATO expansion:

"One of the observations I made in the Nation article was that after NATO expansion was announced, even Boris Yeltsin—the most pro-Western Russian leader in recent memory, in some ways a weak and, to many Russians, incompetent defender of Russian national interests—even his administration took steps to organize a counter-alliance to NATO. This notion that Putin represents an aberrant nationalist response—that response was already evident even under a much more Western-oriented or compliant Russian regime."…

"Thus, rather than establishing the foundation for a mutually agreed-upon security order, NATO expansion opens the door for future geopolitical rivalry by in effect legitimizing Moscow’s efforts to create its own alliance. One can, of course, hope that despite NATO expansion future, Russian leaders will be smart enough to focus on economic modernization, but as NATO approaches Russian borders, one cannot rule out the return of old fashioned alliance building. Even the Yeltsin government, which represents the political faction in Russia most inclined toward economic modernization and cooperation with the West, has seemingly accepted this logic, for it has in the wake of the signing of the founding act stepped up efforts to strengthen its ties with the former Soviet republics as well as to expand relations with China and Iran in an effort to balance NATO."

"With the opening of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Alliance’s eastern boundary now comprises a new line of contiguity with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as well as another geopolitical entity within—the Union of Belarus and Russia. Whereas the former states find greater security and regional stability in their new political-military arrangement, NATO’s eastward expansion has led Belarus and Russia to reassess strategic imperatives in their western peripheries, partially stemming from their mutual distrust of the Alliance as a former Cold War adversary. Consequently, security for one is perceived as a threat to the other."

Thus, shall we agree and admit, that the problem created by NATO's expansion -- and Russia's responses thereto -- (1) transcend Putin and (2) his ideas and behavior?

Bill M.

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 9:03am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

We are weaker militarily than we have been years for the reasons I described above. With the exception of the surge in OIF, we haven't fought decisively due to political choices and false assumptions regarding what works in COIN and what doesn't. That is only one issue, an issue that can be fixed almost overnight with new leadership.

The real issue isn't whether we can defeat Russia, the real issue is Ukraine worth going to war over with another nuclear power? Again what should our strategic objectives be? I'm all for maintaining an international order that is rule based, because it decreases the probability of war. I also agree with Bob on the point that rules have change to adapt to new realities, because if they don't change the international order will increase the likelihood of war with emerging powers who want their peace. We (the international community) need to draw the line when states use military force to increase their territorial claims.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 4:10am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill--fully and wholly agree that UW has been around for hundreds of years--and in some ways the Russian, Iranian and Chinese forms of it really are just updating it with the new technologies.

Weak is an interesting factor that IMO Putin has in his own "altered state of reality" totally mistaken. You are right the concept of military credibility is something that up to Putin history has always viewed as being a strong, powerful and projectable military--but is it really in the 21st century?

I would argue that actually starting in Kuwait through Iraq and AFG we are on the downturn cycle of the definition of military power as the concept of "globalization" is becoming the main focus of most nations these days--how do I get a piece of the economic pie for myself as a nation and for my civil society so I can stay in power.

I do feel that Putin has changed the current world to the direction of might over right something actually Robert talks about a lot here--national moral rights ie between nations, human rights at the civil society levels and on and on. The human rights of rule of law, transparent government and good governance are a massive message and actually IMO many civil societies world wide are striving for in the 21st century.

If you really look at Putin and his inner circle he is massively pushing back on this single topic of human rights like I have never seen a Soviet or Russian leader before him do--he really does fear a Moscow Maidan. If there is a single issue he is weak on it is human rights in all it various legal and economic forms in his own civil society.

But are we as a nation "weaker" not really--can we fight the traditional concept of 2.5 wars in multiple locations --not really so we must carefully pick and choose our engagements to conserve the ability to fight a 1.5 front war, can we power project--yes, do we have a very adequate nuclear defense--not so sure due to funding issues, but do we have an adequate nuclear deterrence- yes we do and Putin knows it.

Our currently perceived "weaknesses" is not military and or economic in nature--rather we have a seriously "weak" set of decision makers" WH and Congress who have not fully "understood" how to use the inherent powers of the US nor what the world is striving for--when that clears up then things might in fact change but until then Putin "perceives the US as weak".

The single biggest mistake we have made was not thoroughly thinking through the European military downsizing --ie taking out combat power and leaving logistics behind--that though was driven by Iraq and AFG. Do not think Putin would have been so aggressive if there were still a division or two of combat power left in Europe. Abrams tanks in Poland and Estonia definitely got his attention and the long drive home by the 2 ACR was a PR genius bot for the countries they drove through but the messaging sent to Putin we can and will drive anywhere we want in NATO without your permission. that decision came from the European military commanders NOT the White House big difference IMO.

His vice deputy in the last several weeks made an off handed comment that Russia would not survive more than six hours if it was engaged on the nuclear side--they fully understand our abilities.

But I have said a number of times a superpower must be as well an economic power and do we still have that single most important power--yes even if it appears that we do not--it comes via the "globalization".

There is though two unspoken areas we tend to dominate the globe with and it goes to "globalization" --the English language meaning US English but British English and our culture--both are amazingly seen in the young generations of most countries---that alone forces the discussion on "human rights".

Still am of the opinion that a strongly built SF C-UW deterrence is the way forward as you rightly saw Putin unleashed a SF and intelligence set of operations twice--the Crimea and now eastern Ukraine.

AND IMO unless the US stiffens it's backbone we will see it again in the Baltics--just a matter of time as Putin has not for a single movement come off of his three geo political goals. He might step back one or two steps in the Ukraine but he is always moving forward.

Bill M.

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 6:24pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw 09,

I'm responding to several of your texts. First, Russia already has significant IO capabilities, just like the U.S., so it seems like they're simply expanding upon current capabilities. Important, but hardly news from what I read.

Russian use of SOF and intelligence operations (not intelligence collection) as an opening move is not new, they did close to the same in Afghanistan in 1979. I would like to know what the comment meant that the U.S. wasn't aware of Russia's rapid military expansion? Every global security forecast I have read mentioned that Russia was modernizing its military. The error by some folks who live the make believe land of rainbows and unicorns is that this was a good thing. Russia's rapid growth of SOF would be a great addition to USSOCOM's Global SOF Network since they're our friends and we have common interests (seriously), and that Russia could help the international community enforce the international order (not only abide by a rules based system, but work with us to help enforce it). I don't deny that is a possible future outcome, but it never was a potential outcome with Putin in charge.

What's new, and what isn't? UW has been a tactic since at least the Peloponnesian Wars, but quaint comments like that mean little to people seeking solutions to complex problems. As you, or one of the authors you quoted pointed out, what has changed is the context (and I would add new technology) that UW is conducted in. UK strategists during WWII pointed out that UW during WWII was significantly different in character than its historical use due to communications technology (coordination capability over distances) and the ability to insert special operations forces to assist resistance movements, and then sustain those forces, due to the long range aircraft, and the list goes on. There will always be continuity and change, it is important to recognize what has changed, so we don't make the mistake of drawing the wrong lessons from historical cases.

At the end of the day one continuity that we attempted to wish away is the value of a credible military capability to serve as a deterrent. Credible equates to capability, capacity, and will. The war in Iraq has undermined our power in many ways that are beyond the scope of this post, but those who argued we needed to stay in Iraq with a large force, we did need to stay as a smaller scale force, were caught up in the COIN hoopla and didn't realize (or chose to ignore) that the rest of the world was moving on while we bleed out our human resources, national will, and national wealth in Iraq and Afghanistan (though justified).

We're now seen as weak, but we were also seen as weak during the post Vietnam Era for a few years. I think we'll regain some of our power under future leaders who will be forced by reality to embrace more of a realist outlook, but I don't think we'll ever again be the superpower we were. That may not be so bad, but it all depends upon how it managed.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 1:53pm

This goes to a large degree to the seemingly confusion in the Putin decision making processes.

IE--one day condemning the US for being responsible for all the world problems and today stating we want to work with the US.

It goes to the term "altered state of reality" I often use.

STOLYPIN: The Moscow Disconnect

Mark Galeotti of New York University

April 16, 2015

In a hold over from Soviet days, the mighty Kutuzovsky Prospect highway leading into Moscow’s city centre still has a special middle lane reserved for emergency vehicles or, more often, the motorcades of senior government officials. Not for them the misery of the capital’s notorious traffic jams. They whisk past, in a wholly separate world of smooth, fast and easy transit, protected by wailing-sirened police cars, incognito behind tinted windows. Russian politics likewise appears to be devolving into two distinct realms, as Vladimir Putin and his closest cohorts retreat from the increasingly problematic realities of the real world, into their privileged and secure haven, apart from the people who actually have to administer Russia for them.

It is hardly unusual for there to be disconnects between the rulers and the ruled, but not only are these are times which require some tough and far-sighted policies, but even within the broad category of the “rulers” there is a distinct gulf. Two of the prevailing themes that emerged from a range of meetings and conversations I’ve had in Moscow these past two weeks are a sense of drift and a lack of connection between even senior figures within business, politics and government, and the small circle who actually define policy. As one unusually forthcoming middle-ranking official put it, albeit wisely off the record: “Government has retreated from view, orders come from a secret court, and we don’t know who is making them, how and why.”

Secret Court

Even those who are still confident in their president and claim optimism about the country’s future become coy when pressed about how far they feel that the channels to transmit their views up the power vertical are working well, and to what extent they feel their individual and collective interests are being represented within that “secret court”.

This is perhaps especially visible when it comes to the economy. An economist who in his day consulted frequently for the government threw up his hands and said: “nothing’s happening, we have no meaningful policy.” The people whose job it is to manage Russian macroeconomics do seem strangely uncertain, perhaps because they often don’t get to do their jobs. Multiple sources claimed that the governor of the central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, tried for over a week to schedule a meeting with Putin before last year’s ruble collapse, and Kremlin aides seem to have had at least as much influence over interest rates.

Meanwhile, there is an on-and-off war being waged in Ukraine, but neither the generals nor the diplomats seem either to know the intended end result – or be consulted about strategy. Both within the military and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, their role seems to be simply to await instructions. These often come through Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, former head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), which generals grumble now seems to be defining policy.

Although there is something of a cult of Foreign Minister Lavrov these days – you can buy We-Heart-Lavrov t-shirts in the Evropeisky shopping mall – even he does not seem to be playing much of a role in advising on policy, merely executing it. Consider, for example, Russia’s recent attempts to play the “nuclear card”, using a forum of generals to threaten a response up to and including atomic weapons should Nato deploy more troops into its own eastern member states. Apart from the fact that this is a hollow threat, it served only to harden resolve in the Nordic regions. Five nations – the very kind of states Moscow presumably hoped to dismay and deter – came together explicitly to characterize Russia as the foremost threat they faced. As one recently retired diplomat sniffed: “Lavrov would not have made that mistake.”


It is, of course, a disturbing development when not only the foot soldiers of the Russian state, but also its noncoms and field officers feel that their own commanders are out of touch and unwilling to listen to them.

Beyond that, though, this also speaks to a second, even more problematic issue. If the people making the final decisions seem detached from the processes of daily governance, this is not just a problem for the executive: that same distance makes it harder for the executive to really know what is happening, as a basis for effective policy. In other words: we do not know what Putin knows.

I tend to discount the kind of over-heated claims that he is irrational and erratic. However, a rational actor makes decisions based on the evidence and assessments with which he is presented. We have very little hard information about just how well Putin is being briefed, but another leitmotif of conversations in Moscow was scepticism from specialists of every stripe that he was being kept well informed about their particular area. The economists might accept that he is on top of geopolitics, but were anxious that he did not appreciate the real depth of the financial challenges ahead. The cops assumed everything was going to plan in the Donbas, but felt that the president did not understand the practical challenges they were facing – especially in light of the 10% personnel budget cut being imposed on them – and listened too much to the FSB. And so it went.

Sometimes, the problem seems to be that no one wants to be the one to bring Putin bad news. Within the intelligence community, for example, each agency briefs separately and has learned that getting his ear and favor tends to mean telling him what he wants to hear. Likewise, the Presidential Administration, according to some people I spoke to, can be more interested in keeping everyone happy than ensuring the most accurate perspectives get to Putin’s desk. And a president who prides himself on not using the internet, who has housetrained the media, and who rarely now interacts with his people in anything other than carefully-scripted media events, is unlikely to get an independent take on the state of the nation.

Why should Russia’s rulers address traffic jams so long as they have their own lane? Indeed, do they even know how much time ordinary Muscovites waste in traffic, the frustrations and angers generated as a result? Is anyone telling them? When policy is being determined by a small circle of people increasingly detached from the realities of the country’s situation, and whose own advisers appear determined to protect their isolation, then even the smartest and most rational leaders are unlikely to generate smart and rational policies.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 1:38pm

An interesting farewell from a solid journalist who has been working the eastern European area and who I have met here in Berlin recently.

10 years and 300,000 words later, a final farewell

Almost exactly ten years ago Edward Lucas took over Wi(l)der Europe, now it is time to say goodbye.

by Edward Lucas on 17.04.2015 / 07:44 CET

“Write whatever you like, and at exactly 600 words so they have no excuse to edit it.” With those words my friend Robert Cottrell bequeathed me the then “Wi(l)der Europe” column in European Voice. Almost exactly ten years and 300,000 words later, it is time to say goodbye, with a mixture of gratitude and disappointment.

The thanks go to my editors, chiefly Tim King and Andrew Gardner, for steering the column into print with the lightest of touches, for paying me generously, and for allowing me the pleasure of untrammelled access to their pages. I am also grateful to the many readers who lauded (and sometimes complained) about my thoughts, facts and arguments.

The disappointment is because I failed.

My aim was simple: to give voice to the concerns and viewpoints of the former captive nations of what we used to call “Eastern Europe” (a term I detest), in the hope that sooner or later nobody would try to engage in lame wordplay between “wider” and “wilder”.

I used to take a light-hearted approach, writing about food and drink, linguistic and psychological quirks, literature and scenery. Even then the column had a hard edge. I berated West European politicians and opinion-formers for their pomposity, snobbery and ignorance, and lamented the narrow-mindedness, corruption and incompetence that were the hallmark of post-communist life.

I felt that we were winning. Normality—the decency, dignity, liberty and lawfulness which luckier countries take for granted—was spreading. “Eastern Europe” ceased to exist.

But the big question was always Russia. As an old cold warrior (the last journalist to be expelled from the Soviet Union, in 1990, and Moscow bureau chief for The Economist when Putin came to power in 1998), I had long feared that old Soviet bad habits were merely buried, not dead.

I have a fair claim to be the first to see the current crisis coming. I wrote a book in 2007 called “The New Cold War”. It was widely mocked as scaremongering when it was published; fewer people do that now. Since the Ukraine crisis broke, I have written the column exclusively (some might say monotonously) on the grim topic of European security.

It is grim because we are losing. We are not willing to spend money on defence. We are not willing to take risks. We are not willing to use force. We are not willing to accept economic pain. We are not willing to deal with Kremlin information warfare. Worst of all, we are not yet willing to accept even that Russia is a revisionist power which wants to change the rules.

This is not an east-west split. Some of the countries falling fastest into Putin’s orbit, such as Hungary, are those which suffered greatly at the hands of Soviet occupiers. Some of those that are his most stalwart opponents, such as Sweden, are not even members of NATO. The European Commission has emerged as a formidable adversary for the Kremlin, particularly on energy, just as the disastrous administration of Barack Obama seems set on America’s eclipse as a European power.

I hope still that we are in the darkness before dawn. It is not too late to bolster the Baltics, to save Ukraine, and to punish the Putin regime with real sanctions—directed at the money looted from the Russian people, and the Western bankers, lawyers and accountants who helped launder it.

But I’m not optimistic. Perhaps Putin is right, and the West’s heyday is indeed over. We may have to get used to a world in which rules don’t matter and might is right. Watch this space.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 10:56am

Really worth the reading of this article:

‘Hybrid War’ and ‘Little Green Men’: How It Works, and How It Doesn’t

Mark Galeotti, Apr 16 2015

When Russian special forces seized Crimea at the end of February 2014, without their insignia, but with the latest military kit, it seemed as the start of a new era of warfare. Certainly, the conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated that Moscow, in a bid to square its regional ambitions with its sharply limited resources, has assiduously and effectively developed a new style of ‘guerrilla geopolitics’ which leverages its capacity for misdirection, bluff, intelligence operations, and targeted violence to maximise its opportunities. However, it is too soon to declare that this represents some transformative novelty, because Moscow’s Ukrainian adventures have not only demonstrated the power of such ‘hybrid’ or ‘non-linear’ ways of warfare, but also their distinct limitations.

The Genesis of the Idea

The essence of Russia’s tactics was precisely to try and avoid the need for shooting as much as possible, and then to try and ensure that whatever shooting took place was on the terms that suited them best. To this end, they blended the use of a range of assets, from gangster allies to media spin, in a manner that draws heavily on past political operations, not least the aktivnye meropriyatiya (‘active measures’) of Soviet times (Madeira, 2014).

While not entirely new, their tactics were given a particular novelty simply by the characteristics of the contemporary world, something recognised by the Chief of the General Staff Valerii Gerasimov, in a crucial article from 2013, in which he noted that ‘The role of non-military means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of weapons in their effectiveness’ (Gerasimov, 2013). In what is ostensibly a piece on the lessons of the ‘Arab Spring’ – which Kremlin orthodoxy presents as the result of covert Western campaigns of regime change – he outlines a new age in which:

Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template… [A] perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention, and sink into a morass of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe, and civil war.

There are a variety of reasons why today’s Russia may find itself favouring operations in which, still to quote Gerasimov, ‘The open use of forces – often under the guise of peacekeeping and crisis regulation – is resorted to only at a certain stage, primarily for the achievement of final success in the conflict.’ For a start, despite the still-formidable size of its military, in practice, many of its forces remain antiquated, poorly trained, and scarcely operational. Moscow clearly has the preponderance of military and economic muscle in post-Soviet Eurasia, the region in which it feels it has hegemonic rights. However, not only is this apparent advantage to a considerable extent neutralised by the risk of involving the USA, China, or even the European Union in case of obvious aggression, it is also often not so overwhelming as to guarantee a quick and above all risk-free adventure. Even the five-day war against Georgia in 2008, while a victory, was a sufficiently painful one – with friendly fire incidents, communications mix-ups, and vehicle break-downs – that it galvanised meaningful military reform for the first time in more than two decades (Cohen and Hamilton, 2011).

Non-Linear Instruments

Instead, Russia finds itself in a situation where many of its strengths are either less decisive than it might like, or else are constrained because of economic or geopolitical realities. Put bluntly, a country with an economy somewhere between the size of Italy’s and Brazil’s is seeking to assert a great power international role and agenda. To this end, Russia has turned to this new ‘guerrilla geopolitics’ as a means of playing to its strengths and its opponents’ weaknesses. It has also invested disproportionate resources into the assets most useful for such conflicts.

These are, broadly speaking, three, and they reflect how this is a way of war which even more explicitly than most targets not the opponent’s military or even economic capacity, but their will and ability to fight at all. Of course there is a ‘kinetic’ element ¬– the need to deploy armed forces and sometimes for them to fight – but the forces required for this will tend to have to operate with more autonomy than has in the past been usual for Russian troops, and likewise with greater precision. Thus, Russia has been developing its special and intervention forces, especially its 12,000 or so Spetsnaz. These are generally described as special forces, but they are highly mobile and effective light infantry akin to US Rangers or the French Foreign Legion, rather than true commandos (Galeotti, 2015). Instead, the newly established Special Operations Command (KSO) has perhaps 500 true operators in what in the West would be called ‘Tier One’ akin to the British SAS or US Delta force. Nonetheless, the Spetsnaz, like the VDV Airborne Troops or the Naval Infantry marines, represent an ‘army within an army’ able to operate professionally, decisively, covertly if need be, and outside Russia’s borders.

There is an ‘intelligence-war’ dimension beyond the ‘military war’. The Kremlin has devoted particular resources in its intelligence community. The Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU, military intelligence), and even the Federal Security Service (FSB), which is increasingly involved in overseas operations, are not only agencies tasked with gathering information about foreign capabilities and intentions. Rather, they are also instruments of non-linear warfare, spreading despair and disinformation, encouraging defections, and breaking or corrupting lines of command and communications.

The third particular focus for Kremlin efforts has been its capacity to fight the ‘information war,’ to broadcast its own message and undermine and contest those of others in the name of winning the war in their hearts and minds (Pomerantsev and Weiss, 2014). The RT international television station, for example, has become a crucial player not only in espousing the Kremlin line, but, perhaps more importantly, in challenging Western media orthodoxy with a glitzy mix of genuine investigation, bizarre conspiracy theory, and cynical disingenuousness (Ioffe, 2010; O’Sullivan, 2014). Its 2015 budget is due to increase by almost 30%, suggesting the Kremlin appreciates its role.

Crimea: When It Works

The application of these new, deniable, and politically driven tactics in Ukraine has proven their potential value, but also the risks. In so many ways, Crimea was the perfect context in which the Russians could test out their new approach. The Peninsula already had Russian Black Sea Fleet facilities including the 810th Independent Naval Infantry Brigade, amongst whom KSO operators could quietly be secreted under cover of regular troop rotations. The local Ukrainian military forces, which in any event would never get clear orders from Kiev, were essentially technicians and mechanics, not front-line combat troops. The local population, alienated by twenty years of neglect and maladministration by Kiev, were largely willing to join richer Russia, and there were political and also criminal powerbrokers especially eager to become the agents of a new Muscovite order.

On 27 February, KSO and Naval Infantry seized the Crimean parliament building and began blockading Ukrainian bases on Crimea. Despite their modern Russian uniforms and weapons, the lack of insignia on these ‘little green men’ and Moscow’s flat denial that they were Russian troops was enough to inject a moment’s uncertainty into the calculations in both Kiev and NATO. Were they mercenaries, could it be Crimean vigilantes, or was this some unsanctioned adventure by a local commander? This deliberate maskirovka, or deception operations, was enough to give the Russians and their local allies the time to take up commanding positions across Crimea, including blockading Ukrainian garrisons, such that even if they had then been ordered to fight, they would have been in a very weak position. Ultimately, they surrendered after at most the demonstrative use of a few tear gas grenades, and Russia was able to seize Crimea without a single fatal casualty (Howard and Pukhov, 2014).

The reasons for the success were several. The new government in Kiev was already in disarray and mistrustful of its military commanders, something Moscow could encourage. The Russians had not only good troops already in-theatre and the opportunity covertly to introduce more, they also had a broadly supportive local population. Ukrainian forces, by contrast, were largely not combat ready, scattered in smaller garrisons, demoralised and in some cases sympathetic to or suborned by the Russians. Likewise, the local police and even Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) were penetrated by the Russians, while there were ample allies within the Crimean political and criminal elite to provide both compliant front men and a supply of thuggish ‘local self-defence militias.’

For Moscow, these were the ideal possible conditions. They precluded the need to destabilise the target before intervention, allowed Russia to wage a pre-emptive information war to establish grounds for its mission, and allowed it to use its troops to assert and maintain a near-bloodless fait accompli with, if not deniability, at least a degree of ambiguity.

The Donbas: When it Doesn’t

However, the subsequent adventure into south-eastern Ukraine – Novorossiya in the new Russian lexicon – while undoubtedly also following the non-linear war playbook, has shown how this is by no means the guaranteed war-winner some had initially assumed. Again, the Russians armed and supported irregular allied detachments, backed by a deniable force of their own special forces, while presenting this as an entirely spontaneous and local response to an illegal transfer of power in Kiev. The full panoply of Russian propaganda was deployed to muddy the waters in the West, especially by presenting the new Ukrainian regime as comprising or depending on ‘fascists.’

The expectation appears to have been again that this would be a quick operation that would capitalise on Western hesitancy and its need for consensus politics. Chaos would be stirred up in Novorossiya to demonstrate to Kiev just what could happen if it failed to appreciate its place within Moscow’s sphere of influence. Rather than face a Russian-backed insurgency just at the time it was trying to build a new Ukraine, the government would make suitable obeisance and concessions, above all ruling out further movement towards the European Union and NATO and also constitutional guarantees for Moscow’s allies and clients in the east. Russian active operations would be ended, and all before the West had had a chance to decide what to do.

So much for neat plans, and the Kremlin’s glib assumptions that all would run smoothly epitomises a cocky attitude that prevailed in government circles after Crimea. As one senior military advisor told me at that time, ‘Russia is back. And we now know of what we are capable.’ The very disarray in Kiev, which had worked to Moscow’s advantage over Crimea, now proved a serious problem, as there was no one there able or willing to make the kind of politically ruinous concessions the Russians were demanding. Instead, a ‘short, victorious little war’ (as Interior Minister Plehve invoked before the disastrous 1904-5 Russo-Japanese War) turned into a ‘bleeding wound’ (as Mikhail Gorbachev characterised the 1979-88 invasion of Afghanistan).

Militarily, Russia could maintain the war, not least by the drip-fed addition of military matériel for the fighters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Russian troops maintain a role on the battlefield in the guise of ‘volunteers’ alongside locals, mercenaries, and adventurers, including many Russians and Cossacks marshalled and armed by the GRU in Rostov and moved across the border into Ukraine (RFE/RL, 2014). Others provide training or technical support for the heavy weapons Russia has provided. In situations where it looks as if government troops might even make serious headway on the battlefield, such as in August, a large body of Russian troops were deployed across the border directly to ensure that the insurgent forces were not defeated, only then to be withdrawn – all without any formal acknowledgement of their role.

Russia has been able to maintain an insurgency which, by all accounts, has some genuine local support, but which in military terms is really best considered a loose coalition of local warlords, gangsters, opportunists, and Kremlin proxies. However, it has done so at catastrophic cost, considering the economic impact of the consequent Western sanctions regime, and with no evidence of any successful outcome. Both Kiev and Moscow now want the conflict to end, but unless one side or the other is willing to make greater concessions than have yet been placed on the table, Novorossiya risks becoming an unviable frozen conflict, a pseudo-state dependent on Moscow for its security and economic survival, while in return dooming Russia to continuing international opprobrium and economic crisis.

Conclusions: Politics Is All

Why such a different outcome? The first crucial difference was in the intended outcome: seizing Crimea was a relatively simple objective and although the issue would have been more complicated had the Ukrainians fought, either on Kiev’s orders or local initiative, ultimately it was up to the Russians to win or lose. Their subsequent adventure, though, was a political gambit to influence Ukrainian politics and, as such, dependent on a multitude of factors beyond Moscow’s control, or even imagination.

Most of the same operational advantages were present. A contiguous border allowed for the quick deployment of forces and reliable resupply of men and matériel. The Russians had and have near-absolute command of the air and a preponderance of artillery. Ukraine’s forces have proven largely of indifferent quality; their capacity is undermined by Russian intelligence activity, including the presence of foreign agents within the ranks of their command structure (Galeotti 2014). Moscow had the initiative, and could also rely on local allies and agents.

But while in military terms, the operation was a success, the military is purely a part of the political campaign, and that has been a disastrous failure. What this highlights is that this new style of war, which seeks to rely on multiple military and non-military shocks to paralyse the enemy and break their will to resist, depends above all on a clear and accurate understanding of the political context in which it will operate. Putin gambled that over Crimea, Kiev would be unable to respond meaningfully and on time, and that Western anger and dismay would likely soon ebb, not least as new crises and challenges arise to direct its attention elsewhere. He was probably right. But perhaps over-emboldened by the effortless victory in Crimea, he overreached dangerously in his subsequent intervention into mainland Ukraine.

The Russian state won the ‘military war’ to create Novorossiya. It won the ‘intelligence war’ to support combat operations. It even had successes in the ‘information war’ to undermine Western enthusiasm for direct involvement, at least until the tragic blunder which was the shooting down of MH17. However, the essence of ‘non-linear war’ is that all these diverse components must effectively combine to win the underlying ‘political war’ to achieve the desired aim, and here Moscow is losing, and losing badly.

Does this mean that ‘non-linear war’ is just a temporary fad? No. In an age of interconnected economies, expensive militaries, and the 24/7 news cycle, if anything the fusion of a range of different types of conflict will become the norm. Indeed, arguably the combination of Western military aid on the battlefield, economic sanctions, and political pressure represent a similarly non-linear and asymmetric response. Where Russia leads, the West – but also perhaps China, India, and other powers looking to asserting their power in restrictive and non-permissive political environments – may well follow, albeit carefully learning the lessons of Crimea and Novorossiya alike.


Cohen, A. and Hamilton, R. (2011) The Russian Military and the Georgia War: lessons and implications. Carlisle: US Army Strategic Studies Institute.

Galeotti, M. (2015) ‘Behind enemy lines: the rising influence of Russia’s special forces,’ Jane’s Intelligence Review, January.

Galeotti, M. (2014) ‘Moscow’s Spy Game: Why Russia Is Winning the Intelligence War in Ukraine,’ Foreign Affairs, 30 October. Available at:….

Gerasimov, V. (2013) ‘Novye vyzovy trebuyut pereosmyslenniya form i sposobov vedeniya boevykh deistvii,’ Voenno-promyshlennye kur’er, No. 8.

‘The “Gerasimov Doctrine” and Russian Non-Linear War’ (2014) In Moscow’s Shadows, 6 July. Available at:….

Howard C. and Pukhov, R. (eds) (2014) Brothers Armed: military aspects of the crisis in Ukraine. Minneapolis: East View Press.

Ioffe, J. (2010) ‘What is Russia Today?’ Columbia Journalism Review, 28 September. Available at:

Madeira, V. (2014) ‘Russian subversion – haven’t we been here before?’ Institute of Statecraft, 30 July. Available at:….

O’Sullivan, J. (2014) ‘The difference between real journalism and Russia Today,’ The Spectator, 6 December. Available at:….

Pomerantsev P. and Weiss, M. (2014) ‘The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money,’ The Interpreter. Available at:….

RFE/RL (2014) video, ‘Interview: I was a separatist fighter in Ukraine,’ 13 July. Available at:….

Outlaw 09

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 10:46am

Now that we fully understand the Russian "end state for the eastern Ukraine" what will the response for Obama and his NSC be since the obvious failure of negotiations with Iran are becoming more apparent daily???

We do not need negotiations if the motto "is to just give everything away to avoid conflict"--just give it away would save the US taxpayers a lot of travel expenses being paid to the negotiation teams and the media a lot of waiting around time.

#BREAKING #Putin says Russia would consider recognizing "#Donetsk/#Luhansk People's Republic"

Was not this exactly what they stated about Crimea before they actually did annex the Crimea???

BUT then again it just might be the 18th version of a 29 version informational conflict campaign--IMO Putin himself is just winging it hoping not to start a full blown war.

#Russia's #Putin says ready to work with #US only 2 days after accusing America of trying to dominate world affairs…

Outlaw 09

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 4:49am

There is another single point of failure in the Russian non linear warfare doctrine that is becoming daily more apparent:

What happens when the locals wake up one day and discover you are not really supporting them in their demands that you are declaring to the world are so important. IE defending the rights of ethnic Russians wherever they reside.

1. this week 100 Russian mercenaries returned to St. Petersburg retuned and told Russian news media--the locals were constantly calling them "occupiers and they should leave"

2. then this video in a town being hotly contested by Russian mercenaries an older women made her comments known to one of the top Russian mercenary leaders who was visiting there with Russian JCCC personnel providing them protection

At Shyrokyno, Ukrainian woman asks Russian stooge Basurin a fair question. Full video

Outlaw 09

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 1:48am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill M--this kind of states just about where we are today in the world of international relations after the Russians started their non linear warfare exercise.

.@edwardlucas: We may have to get used to a world in which rules don’t matter & might is right… …

More comments from this particular journalist who has a solid understanding of both Russia and the Ukraine.

Russian TV presents coherent single narrative in a way that democratic countries' media cannot. Need to think assymetrically

Putin may use baltics to test or humiliate NATO -- but biggest danger is misunderstanding. Putin is deluded, thinks west is attacking him

My comment: This is a core Putin geo political demand:
Russia likes idea of "new Yalta" (or "new Helsinki") to settle European security. Beware! @FOIresearch

Main explanation of more aggressive russian foreign policy is that west is dramatically weaker than in 1997-2004

Big danger from Russia is snap attack creating fait accompli. But russia already stretched to limit by 15-20k troop commitment in Ukraine

Bill M.

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 8:16pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw, please provide a working link to the article you referenced. Thank you, Bill

Outlaw 09

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 5:46am

If one takes the time to read phases one and two of the Russian UW doctrine of non linear warfare you will notice the extreme importance of "informational conflict" or what some of us call "weaponization of information".

Russia lies, cheats and steals if necessary to fulfill their geo political goals as that is "allowed" when using their doctrine all the while complaining the West is not influencing the Ukrainians enough and or actually responsible for what is happening in the Ukraine--"it ain't us" is their constant mantra and has been since Crimea.

We have heard the countless "myths" spun since the crimea;

1. NATO expansionism
2. violating our perceived "sphere of influence"
3. we were lied to during the 4+2 German agreements about no NATO bases in the east
4. US supported and pushed a junta style takeover of the Ukraine
5. the US is responsible because of it's previous actions in Libya, Serbia, Kosovo, Iraq, Syria and Yemen
6. the US "wants" to keep us from being a great country-they are attempting to dictate to us as a vassal
7. we were forced by US actions to physically take Crimea

And the list goes on for a couple of more points.

BUT then Putin himself yesterday basically blames the Soviet Union for the mistreatment of the eastern European countries and then this today:

U.S. military trainers in Ukraine may 'destabilize' situation: Kremlin

One could actually make the accusation that it is in fact Putin is the "destabilizing factor" ie;

1. he defined his Putin Doctrine in his Duma speech after the Crimea annexation--I will defend all ethnic Russians regardless of where they reside PLUs he annexed Crimea

2. Putin is driving a neo nationalistic form of Russian fascism that is built on expansionism--built on religion and hatred of anything non Russian and or neo liberal

3. Putin supported a very corrupt Ukrainian President where the country is basically missing an unbelievable shortfall of 30B USDs that "disappeared on his watch"

4. Putin "allowed" eight different Russian nationalist mercenary groups to cross into the Ukraine as paid mercenaries

5. Putin has provided "vacationing and contract Russian soldiers" to fight in the Ukraine as well has new and modern heavy weapons, munitions and fuel almost on a daily basis and yet denies it all

6. Importantly Putin is paying for all the Russian mercenaries AND stealing factory after factory and shipping them back to Russian along with Ukrainian coal.

6. AND most importantly Putin is not implementing any of the Minsk 1 and 2 agreements yet complains it is the US that is "destabilizing" and the Ukrainians are not "fulfilling Minsk".

Strange is it not that the West continues to believe they can actually deal with him on any level???

Outlaw 09

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 2:36pm

This comment today from Putin in his annual 4 hour telephone question and answer session should put to rest the accussation concerning NATO expansion--seems that the eastern Europeans knew what they wanted after the SU. Anything but the Soviet Union.

Even Putin confirmed it today--sometimes he amazes me and admits the truth.

#Putin admits that it was wrong after 1945 to try and force eastern #Europe to live under a Soviet system and they are feeling the echoes.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 2:26pm

Need to pay attention to what specific Russians are saying---

Gerasimov hinting at a future world war: "It's difficult to foresee how this will all end"… …

#Russia's chief of the General Staff accuses the #US of seeking world dominance and says that was what forced #Russia to invade #Crimea.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 7:46am

To understand Putin one must learn to "listen" to what he says and sometimes one must learn to read between the lines especially if one "understands" the ideology that drives Putin especially from his chief ideologue Dugin.

Reread his comments on the US and it does say something about his views of the US that will never change.

The whole Putin Q and A session is premised on the false, pre-Enlightenment view that the leader of a country is totally infallible.

Now, a massive military parade so vets can ask Putin a q. One asks if #Russia has any allies, namely against Nazis

Asked if #Russia has any allies, Putin starts by quoting Alexander III saying Russia has only two: the Army & Navy. Then mentions BRICs

TV host: Who are our enemies? Putin: We're a big country w/ lots of resources & "nuclear resources & potential

"But we don't consider anyone to be our enemies" says #Putin (that was 1st reference to Russia's nuclear potential btw - certainly not last)

Putin said many European leaders don't want to come to Victory Day because they've received a call from the "Washington obkom" banning them

Putin says the U.S. is trying to force its models of development on Eastern Europe just like the Soviet Union did after World War II.

Classic #Putin: Yes, our forefathers were wrong to use force against eastern Europeans. Now Americans trying to do same thing. They'll fail

'You can't compare Nazism and Stalinism' Putin says. Highly sensitive topic today in Russia.

Putin says wrong to compare Nazism & Stalinism but talks about Stalinism's monstrousness, says the Soviet Union did force model on E Eur

"You can't compare Nazism and Stalinism side by side because Nazis tried to kill entire races," says Putin. Stalin deportations not as bad.

Putin says recent murders of regime opponents in Ukraine - including Oles Buzina, killed minutes ago - show Ukraine's not becoming European.

#Putin: I will tell you openly and straightly. There are no #Russia|n troops in #Ukraine.

Putin: I'm not nationalist. We're against nationalism. It's not our fault that relations with the West are ruined. U.S. wants "vassals."

Outlaw 09

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 6:42am

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

Robert--something cropped up yesterday and today that needs to be thrown into the conversation mix that I really do think causes problems for Obama.

Let's take Obama's education for a moment--elite trained all the way and trained to think and act as a lawyer who should in theory be always asking the question WHY???? Nothing wrong in being elite trained. But he was not involved in the Cold War-- actually he matured at the tail end of it, he never served in the US military nor fought in a war even Desert Storm.

Now take Putin's education KGB all the way, worked as a CI case officer recruiting spies to spy on the US Army SF in Bad Toelz--failed at that or that is what was alluded to, shopped in Berlin at the super store in Berlin the KaDeWa during the Cold War thus benefitting a true KGB operative as a side benefit, then he sees his own political system fall apart, then the rough Russian rebuild years in St. Petersburg until he makes it back into politics--who sees and attempts to be a "man of the people".

Total different upbringing so to speak.

There is a Russian biker gang group called the Black Wolves who want to ride the route of the victorious Rad Army and end up in Berlin on 9 May--basically a blunt provocation if you ask me. Putin has ridden with them, they took over military bases in the Crimea along with the GRU and have proudly fought in the Ukraine--their boss in an interview this week stated the following;

He hates "Western leaders and the West why because they have tolerance--and tolerance is a sign of weakness" Putin on the other hand does not tolerate anything thus he is a great leader.

Secondly, yesterday in the HFAC they discussed the Russian "informational conflict" or what some of us call "weaponization of information" and the main individual who spoke before the Committee released a PDF well worth reading.

In fact it should be mandatory reading for everyone in the US government.

So if Putin is intolerant and the Russian neo nationalist right views tolerance as a "weakness" just what then is the response from this elite trained lawyer President trained on the concept of "compromise" and or soft power ie diplomacy as his basic instinct.

Actually if you noticed the response from the German FM on the recent Normandy 4 meeting here in Berlin on the Ukraine--the Russian FM is not in the mood for diplomacy ie he thinks the same way as Putin--he has to as he is Putin's mouth piece.

"Compromise"--any "compromise" from the West will be automatically viewed as a "victory" and "sold that way to the Russian population" sweet and simple.

Taken from Putin's annual Q&A telephone call in session today--in this exchange one can see that actually the Russian dairy farmers have exactly the same complaints as do EU farmers BUT the big difference is the EU addresses them Russia does not yet Russian want to expand the economic free trade zone from Portugal to the Russian Far East under Russian control not the EUs.

Notice the "intolerance" that he gets into twice--once along the lines of "love it or leave it".

"John Kopiski came to Russia from the UK to do business 23 years ago, after meeting his Russian wife decided to stay. He has become a staunch fan of Putin & Stalin."

John Kopiski, the British farmer (now Russian citizen) who runs biggest dairy farm in Vladimir Region has a go at Putin on farm subsidies.

“John the farmer”--Farmers want quotas, guaranteed access to large grocery chains

typical exchange btw Putin, farmers so far. Farmers; we need cheap loans, easy access to the market. P: let's talk about our agri strategy.

An hour into the phone-in. Main news so far is that Putin knows an alarming amount about milk production

Farmer from Novosibirsk region wants Russia's ban on European goods to continue. Bad for consumers, very very good for farmers.

Putin's reply to John the Farmer and his grievances: if things were really as bad as you say, you would be long gone from Russia,wouldn't u?

On another questioner from the field:
"So, you didn't listen to me properly," Putin chides the presenter.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 3:41pm

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill M--here is that core Russian end state that has been cropping up since about 2003--my question and unanswered by the Russian FM today--under whose hegemon will be the leader of this concept--answer is Russia.

From the Russian FM today--

Russia has been actively and consistently working toward this, among other things, calling for serious efforts in the Euro-Atlantic region to put into practice a principle of equal and undivided security and form a common economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Unfortunately, they refused to even listen to us, let alone heed our call.

Bill M.

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 6:09am

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

I think Outlaw did a great job of outlining potential U.S. strategic interests. If you actually think it about strategically, it isn't about Ukraine. This is where I think your comments at times confuse strategy with local socio-political understanding. Local conditions are exploited by both internal and external actors, the people for the most part allow themselves to be led by these actors because they're frustrated with local conditions (or have been convinced to be frustrated with local conditions). It is certainly important to understand the current environment to identify what potential future environments may be possible based on the resources we or others are willing to commit to guide, or in extreme cases, force change. I think you would agree there is a difference between strategic understanding and strategy, yet that isn't always clear in your arguments.

Strategically, it appears Outlaw's point about weakening NATO and decreasing U.S. influence on the global stage while increasing its own are its ultimate strategic ends. That begs the question of appropriate responses to achieve our strategic ends. Where I think Obama has failed is identifying those strategic ends. When you compare Obama to the junior Bush, he certainly isn't worse when it comes to foreign policy, but he is just as bad. To be fair he was handed a crap sandwich, but when your President it is your job to deal with it. In some respects he reminds me of LBJ, LBJ didn't want to win the war in Vietnam, but he also didn't want to lose it. He fiddled around to maintain some degree of political legitimacy on the home front so he could push his domestic social reform efforts, which was his main effort. I believe he was the one who complained about this damn war getting in the way. I can't recall what President provided the sage advice about coming into office with grand plans, but the world gets in the way implying what is obvious in hindsight, which is there are others actors on the stage and you'll have to dance with them whether you want to or not.

For Outlaw and others who argue we have no strategy, what do you think our strategic ends should be regarding Europe? Ideally, you identify the ends before you start aligning ways and means. Without clear ends, then I agree with Bob's critique that we're just intervening to intervene, which is a pathway to ruin over the long run.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 1:00am

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

There is another way to approach the current world--if we look at say the first colored revolts and then on to the Arab Springs and ending with the Ukrainian Maidan--civil societies have in fact been standing up and demanding good governance, the rule of law and governmental transparency based on what they envision for this own civil societies. And if along the way they could stem the always massive corruption and change forced borders drawn by pencils even better.

Our single failure was to understand this was an ongoing future development of say the beginning of the 21st century and it was not going to stop any time soon and was never going to go away.

So if that is the wave we simply forgot to surf with it--Obama started to with his Egyptian speech but then became afraid of his shadow and in the ME our FP was all over the map because of this indecision.

As he focused first on the Israeli Palestinian conflict and failed, he moved onto Iran, then was sucked back into Iraq and now whiplashed by the true Sunni Shia KSA/Iran/Russia divide that never went away--then the Russian reset and nothing behind it and then onto the Far Eastern pivot. Now Cuba and then nothing in say the Ukraine and Russia again.

I am dizzy just going through the many shifts in just seven years---in all what about six different ongoing FP events and only Cuba is working.

If I am dizzy then what do our traditional partners think?

By the way one of the core Putin issues in the Ukraine was in fact the very real threat of a "Maidan" occurring in Moscow--that was his worst nightmare for his rule until into 2020. Had nothing to do with economics and or spheres of influence as is the current myths.

It had to do with the demand of good governance, rule of law, transparency, and the ending of corruption and state owned enterprises.

Robert C. Jones

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 3:09am

In reply to by Move Forward

You view the world through partisan lenses that would make the people at Fox News proud. Most of your "facts" are superficially correct, but there is a heavy bias in your analysis. You are set in your world-view. I disagree with most all of your conclusions, but I will not attempt to disabuse you of those perspectives.

Move Forward

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:25pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

ISIL originated in Syria, not Iraq. If we want to attribute counterfactuals to particular Presidents and policies, a host of differences on how greater involvement in early Syria problems and an Iraq with retained U.S. presence would make an interesting discussion--and both were interests worth not ignoring.

Speaking of counterfactuals, would Northern and Southern Watch still be going on today if we had not invaded in 2003? How long would the Russians have avoided providing more advanced air defenses to Iraq as they are now to Iran and Syria? Would we still have forces in Saudi Arabia that created much of the Islamic extremism?

Thankfully, "dictators" exist in the Middle East in key allied countries. If it is wrong for us to overthrow dictatorships we don't like, it is equally wrong to attempt to force Egypt and Saudi Arabia to move to more democratic governments. Now we see Egypt and KSA acting in the absence of U.S. resolve. If that precedent ultimately moves toward a Sunni ground force in Syria, then President Obama will have at least succeeded in that respect. It remains to be seen if that will occur, or if any Arab coalition can defeat ISIL, the Syrian Army (with Iranian assistance) and restore stability.

During the watch of President Bush (43), Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia joined NATO. Albania and Croatia joined under President Obama, and Hillary Clinton was asking Greece and Macedonia to work out their issues so Macedonia, too, could join NATO (which never occurred). Most NATO expansion occurred under President Bush (41) and President Clinton. It is utterly unknowable whether Putin would have been even more aggressive against Baltic States were it not for inclusion in NATO. My bet is that it certainly is a greater deterrent than those nations not being part of NATO as the Ukraine and Georgia wars illustrate.

One also might wager that Putin is far more impressed by aircraft and armor operating near and in Baltic nations than by any covert UW and airborne unit activity that may be occurring on NATO's part.

Robert C. Jones

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:15pm

In reply to by Move Forward

Iraq was never "won" - resistance suppressed temporarily, but with a solution for governance that made the resultant Sunni Arab revolution inevitable. ISIL didn't cause that, they just leveraged that energy we created to their advantage. Not to mention that all of this was set in play by the decision to remove Saddam's Iraq that served as the keystone in separating and stabilizing Sunni-Shia competition.

I don't agree with everything President Obama does foreign policy wise, but compared to what Bush did? He is not worse, just different. There are many political situations around the globe that need to evolve and will evolve regardless of what the US thinks is best for us. Propping up dictators on one hand, and overthrowing regimes on the other as Bush did was a confused mix of acceleration and delay. Expanding NATO in a desperate quest for partners to validate our operations in Afghanistan was short-sighted at best.

There are no clearly right answers for the big issues any US President has to deal with in an era such as this. The status quo and what worked in the Cold War are probably the least likely to be right now. But what is actually right now? Time will tell.

Move Forward

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 9:26pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

<blockquote>Bush set this president up with his poor policy decisions in the ME and E. Europe, always sucks to deal with a predecessor's mess</blockquote>
Huh? Wouldn't you admit Iraq was pretty much won by the end of 2008? I don't recall President Bush having a thing to do with a screwed up Yemen or Libya, nor was he dissing Egypt or Israel as he left office. Then recall the JV comment made about ISIS by President Obama, not President Bush, who correctly predicted what would happen if we prematurely left Iraq. No barrel bombs were being dropped in Syria when President Bush left office, either.

As for Russia, Obama laughed off the Russian threat when debating Romney, and don't forget the famous Clinton "reset" button. A lot of East European nations were involved as part of NATO in Afghanistan which at least gave them the experience to deal in part with Russian aggression first exhibited in Georgia as President Bush was departing office. Kind of inconsistent behavior, wouldn't you say, to be trusting Russia to "reset" anything.

And of course we all know that six years later, the economy is still President Bush's fault as well.

Robert C. Jones

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 5:01pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Interesting is not same as interest. Are the Germans or French providing weapons?

Outlaw 09

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 4:19pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

The Ukraine due to the old styled Soviet state enterprises when they shifted in 1991 have been struggling on the agricultural side--with western modernization the Ukraine is basically the breadbasket of all of Europe and a massive grain exporter.

Secondly, the IT side of the current Ukraine rivals much of Europe and Silicon Valley has signaled a strong interest to develop it further as Ukrainian coders rival Russian abilities in this sector.

Their military industrial complex ranks above most of Europe especially in the EW, gas turbine and aircraft development and surprisingly their new ATM out performs our Javelin and is half the price.

Thirdly, the Ukraine sits on top of a major shale gas deposit matching all of current US reserves.

The Ukrainian rare earth deposits rank in the top three globally.

So if one takes this and adds 45M consumers to the list not a bad start for US interests.

Politically speaking there is an interesting movement forming between the Baltics, Sweden, Finland, Poland, the Ukraine and Moldavia that will bring a larger long term stability to the region than does NATO--both militarily and in the area of military R&D.

And the list goes on and if they join the EU they join TTIP.

This is a good run down on the Ukrainian abilities that even Russia is dependent on economically.…

In some aspects Russia is fighting the 21st century's first globalization war and for raw resources.

But more importantly the Ukrainian civil society made a decision that they had enough of Soviet style massive corruption, poor governance, lack of the rule of law then they stood up a fought for good governance, rule of law and transparency in freezing temps and being killed --all those things we claim civil societies want and desire.

Then they without a major army stood up volunteer units who carried their fight since the beginning and the entire civil society has been massively supporting their military in a way never seen before in the Ukraine and along the way have passed some of the most modern European laws against corruption and try to maintain a transparent government all the while fighting the Russian military with 70/80 weapons and more importantly they want help in making the transition to a western style European society.

And that is not reason enough for the US to get involved?

For the first tie since 9/11 a nation is asking the US strictly for weapons and they will do the fighting as it is their fight and their country--ought we not respect that desire--would be a first time for the US--the Russian response is with US weapons they will attack us- their response--we are not that crazy.

Yet we allow the Russian smokescreen to freeze our decision making out of basically fear.

Robert C. Jones

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 3:07pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

I understand Russian interest in Ukraine; and EU interest in Russian actions in Ukraine - but what exactly are the US interests in Ukraine worthy of war with Russia?

Should we bleed ourselves white on every tragic event around the globe so as to have no ability or will to wage war when truly necessary? Bush set this president up with his poor policy decisions in the ME and E. Europe, always sucks to deal with a predecessor's mess